Sunday, April 24, 2005

The Follow-Up Rate

Whenever I travel to speak at a conference or attend a conference, it often happens.  The second or third day after I return home, I hit a low-energy slump. This great inertia sweeps over me and I wonder how I can get almost anything done.   I have piles of paper around my desk and on my desk and I wonder which pile to tackle first.  Piles of magazines and correspondence and bills have to be organized and given attention. Instead of giving in to these feelings of inertia, I’ve learned to slow down a bit—but to continue moving forward.

For eight days I was traveling. The first stop was New York City and a series of meetings with old friends and making new friends in the American Society of Journalists and Authors. It involved dozens of conversations and exchanging business cards and ideas.  Throughout the process, I attempted to keep track of different promises with notes to myself for follow-up.  Each of these items demand a bit of attention and follow-through. And if I don’t? Then I risk hurting my follow-up rate in a small way. I want to be known as a person who makes a promise—and follows through on that promise. It’s key in this business of publishing where the devil is in the details.

One of my friends, Sandy Lamb, is an example of this type of action. I wanted to attend a workshop from Columbia University new media professor Sree Sreenivasan but was unable to get to it.  This packed session at the conference (follow this link for some of the information and insight) was exactly the same time as the workshop which I moderated on collaboration and ghost writing. In passing, I must have mentioned to Sandy that I wanted to get one of the handouts from this session.  She noted this detail—and imagine my surprise when I opened my mail to find a handout and a little personal note. It was appreciated and made a positive impression.

Or I received a short thank you note from John Rosengren who coordinated some of the American Society of Journalists and Authors workshops. It was much appreciated. When I was in North Carolina, I purchased some thank you notes which I plan to use in my follow-up plans over the next few days.  I never want to forget the little word tucked into the list of sins during the last days in 2 Timothy 3: ingratitude. 

During both of these recent conferences, I exchanged business cards with numerous people.  It’s terrific to have this personal information but what next?  I will be adding this information to my rolodex, sending follow-up notes and keeping in touch. I never want to forget the power of information.

I’m constantly looking for ways to increase my follow-up rate. It’s important and something to consider in your writing life.

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